Daily supplementation with 12 milligrams or more of lycopene may decrease blood pressure, particularly in people of Asian descent or those with higher blood pressure, a study suggests.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries (blood vessels). Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood through blood vessels, supplying the body's muscles, organs and tissues with the oxygen and nutrients that they need to function. The American Heart Association estimates that nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Approximately two-thirds of people over the age of 65 have high blood pressure. Of those people with high blood pressure, 71.8% are aware of their condition. Of all people with high blood pressure, 61.4% are under current treatment, 35.1% have it under control, and 64.9% do not have it controlled.
Lycopene is a bright red pigment that is naturally found in the human liver, serum (blood), adrenal glands, lungs, prostate, colon, and skin at higher levels than other similar pigments. In animal studies, lycopene has been found to have antioxidant effects and may also block cancer cell growth. However, there is still controversy over whether it has these effects in humans. Many studies suggest that eating lycopene-rich foods or having high lycopene levels in the body may be linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and age-related eye disorders.
In the current study, the researchers sought to clarify conflicting evidence on the potential blood pressure-lowering benefits of lycopene. They looked at six studies that involved the effects of lycopene supplementation of 12 milligrams or more daily on blood pressure.
The results suggested that higher lycopene dosages appeared to lower blood pressure more significantly, especially in people who had higher blood pressure at baseline or in those of Asian descent.
The authors concluded that the available research indicates that lycopene supplementation may lower blood pressure, and that the effects may be more pronounced in some populations. More evidence is needed to better understand and confirm these findings.
In addition to lycopene, other integrative therapies such as chocolate, garlic, and omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for high blood pressure.
For more information about lycopene, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.